Sounds of Winona

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown 

I’ve noticed since moving that there are lots of new sounds here at the new Winona homestead. While there isn’t as much traffic noise (sirens, planes, and freeway) as there was in the city, there are number of things that get my attention:

  1. 8 a.m. bells from St. John’s Catholic Church just a couple of blocks away, not to mention noon and 6 p.m. bells as well! If we’re not already up by the 8:00 bonging, by golly we are up when they finish.
  2. The truck of a neighbor across the alley who leaves at 6 a.m. – have only met this person to wave at. There is also a motorcycle that comes through the alley (we are RIGHT ON the alley) often enough. No more distance between us and the garbage trucks, either.
  3. A mournful dog who is vocal when his people are late getting home from work. He belongs to  our next door neighbor to the north, who is, happily enough, someone we know from folk dancing here in the early 80s! Was amazing the first time we looked out the window and said “Isn’t that Gerard??”
  4. Gerard’s cat, who was formerly invited in to what is now our house, and lets us know she ought to be allowed in ANY time she wants.
  5. A plethora of as yet unidentified songbirds (plus the usual robins, cardinals, woodpeckers).
  6. Train whistles (luckily, during waking hours) – the trains aren’t as close as they were in Robbinsdale (back yard), but they’re more frequent.
  7. There are even a few sounds that I had a hard time figuring out – the “clucking” I thought I heard periodically (thinking someone on the block had chickens) turned out to be our refrigerator when it goes back on. Then a low hum in the middle of the night, just once, had a very mysterious quality to it – I even got up and walked outside to see if I could identify it, but never did. Something on the river?

There are actually some sounds from Robbinsdale that I miss, particularly the chipmunks and some of the birds.

Where have you lived that was a location rich in sounds?

137 thoughts on “Sounds of Winona”

  1. Right on the North Shore, including the highway. Two Harbors had its church bells and busy rail yards and docks, but lost all the steam whistle communication.
    Her in Kato, lots of city sounds plus when the wind is right, the railroad humping yard at night. Railroads are in both my and Sandy’s families.
    Where I gre up the huge mallets pulling long list lines of empty ore cars back up to the range, the farm sounds, the woods sounds. Loved hearing the slowly increasing speed of the stroke of those Yellowstone steam mallet engines which I often heard as I fell asleep. Took the right wind, but when it was right you could hear them for an hour as they wrapped around us, never closer than mile and a quarter away.

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    1. Meant to also name the sounds of the waves beating on Superior’s shore when lived on the lake. That was the best sound to live by.mwe heard much of the time even wit the highway n between.

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  2. I cannot claim to have lived there (two months of construction doesn’t qualify as a resident): Brooklyn, N.Y. The city’s sounds are legendary, of course, but it’s a sound that was missing that caught my ear. The family had visited in 1958 and my most vivid memory of the trip was the hum of vehicle traffic on The Bridge. It terrified me. For sure we would be meeting death in the East River. There is a bridge between Bismarck and Mandan that to this day the crossing of which makes my heart race a little bit as it too produces that buzzing noise. (You Dickinson folks might know the one in the middle of town) But when I arrived in Brooklyn Heights that sound was gone. I was informed that the decking had been repaved.

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    1. Do you mran the one on Main or the one on I 94?. The one on Main has been renovated and , for the most part, replaced. It is a really nice bridge now.

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  3. Summer evenings in August in Ames were a time of rest and reflection as the sun slid down the western sky and the fierce heat of the day lifted. The whole world seemed to sigh, accepting the end of a day of heat and work. It was a time to move slowly, doing a few chores before night actually fell. The air would be filled with the insistent rasping of cricket music. From the utility lines along the alley mourning doves would whistle sadly. From time to time, off in the far distance, a passing train would blow its harmonic, throaty horn, a singularly sad sound. Children would play in the gathering dusky, shouting and laughing as they chased each other, threw balls or hid in lilac shrubs during games of tag. In kitchens, moms would be washing dishes and toweling them dry. Men would stand silently in the failing light with hoses to water gardens. A large moth would beat its wings against a screen, trying to get to the light inside the house. The circulating sprinkler on a neighbor’s lawn hissed the most iconic sound of all: hish, hish, hish, hish, his . . . bucketybucketybucketybuckety . . . his, hish, hish. And then the distant sound of mothers standing on porches to call in their children to bathe them and get them installed in their beds. Somewhere down the street a robin would fill the air with its curiously tuneless evening serenade.” And then night, with just a slight breeze to stir the trees. Soft and deep, the mellow hoot of an owl welcoming the arrival of the moon. Down the street a dog would hurl a muted challenge at some perceived threat before noticing that nobody was sharing his concern. And then darkness and peace.

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    1. did you have this on your pile of wonderful works looking for a place in this world and simply plug it in to bir’s post or is this an early hours musing from ypur poets heart at daybreak west coast time?
      whichever… it is marvelous
      write the story of this time and place and self publish it for us please

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      1. Thanks, tim. I put this piece together with a little smile, wondering if anyone would recognize my inspiration for it. Like Melania honoring Michelle Obama, this piece is a mostly original word poem honoring James Agee’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915.”

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      1. When I was growing up we lived in a place with lots of tree frogs. My current home has had them from time to time, but not consistently. They can be remarkably loud when you have the windows open at night. A distinctive reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee sound that goes on and on.

        When I first bought my house the crickets were frequent visitors. Once I removed a light switchplate and found a cricket in the electrical connection box in the wall. Now I don’t seem to have any crickets anymore.

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        1. I took the switchplate off to investigate because I had been hearing chirping from the wall and finally figured out where it was coming from. So the cricket did not startle me. It had already announced itself.

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      2. Most of the places I lived in as a kid were houses on small lots, surrounded by lots of other houses. In 9th grade we moved to a quarter acre in the western burbs of St. Louis. There was even a very small creek between our house and the house next to ours. On a warm June night when my folks were out, I heard a continuing noise that freaked me out a bit (I read The Exorcist that year and lot of things freaked me out). I turned the tv up really loudly. Turns out it was tree frogs, which I had never heard before. My parents laughed.

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  4. Our current house, depending on whether Tommy is locked up or not, has a multitude of sounds. He’s been locked up for about six months now, so we’ve enjoyed a rather peaceful spring and summer so far. When Tommy’s here, sounds of frequent arguments with lots of profanity, and car radios with obnoxious rap music and extreme bass sounds that penetrate everything are common. Then there’s their little miniature Chihuahua (who came up with the idea of a miniature of an already tiny dog?), Rozi, who is constantly yapping in the yard.

    Our favorite sound comes from our next door neighbor on the other side of the house. He’s a professional trombone player. Many evenings and weekends, strains of the trombone parts of various pieces of classical music waft toward our house. We love it. Mike’s trombone playing also seems to have a soothing effect on Gizmo, Hans’ double yellow headed Amazon parrot, who from time to time contributes considerably to the cacophony of sounds when he doesn’t feel he’s getting the attention he deserves.

    Of course there are lots of wild bird sounds, squirrels chattering, garbage trucks coming through the alley, and traffic noise from the street, but I’m often amazed at how quiet it can be. When we sit around our fire pit in the back yard at night, it’s really amazing to me that it’s so quiet considering that we live in the city.

    I’m sure there are lots of sounds that I don’t hear, partly because of reduced hearing, and partly because I have an innate ability to tune out sounds that drive Hans crazy. When you have lived in a room facing a runway a few hundred feet from your windows, and you could sleep through DC-8 and other large planes, as well as helicopters taking off and landing, you can pretty much sleep through anything. And I have. I have slept through severe thunderstorms that have brought down trees in our yard, and I didn’t hear a thing. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

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    1. Several things here stand out for me, PJ – “whether Tommy is locked up or not” how locked up does Tommy get?

      I would love to hear more (blog post?) about this: “I have an innate ability to tune out sounds that drive Hans crazy”…
      …and this: ” When you have lived in a room facing a runway a few hundred feet from your windows” – I don’t remember you mentioning this before.

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      1. Tommy is a forty-something son a my next door neighbor. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Didn’t graduate from high school, never left home, has never held a job, and has never been married, yet has five kids with four different women. Not what you’d call a real winner.

        He’s what some would call a backyard mechanic, but I’m pretty sure that’s pretty much a cover up for his drug dealing. He’s one of those hopeless cases. His childcare payments are hopelessly in arrears, so there’s perpetually a warrant out for his arrest on that account. Because of his backyard mechanic business, he drives – with a suspended license and without insurance – so he’s in and out of the workhouse constantly, and has been been for at least thirty years. He is one of those cases that every cop in the precinct are familiar with him. No amount of intervention by social workers, probation officers, or others who have tried to help have been able to keep Tommy on the straight and narrow.

        Tommy is a likeable guy when he’s clean and sober, and he has a good heart, but because of drug use, lack of discipline and some mental health issues, he is a constant source of grief, and so are all but one of his children. I shudder to think what will happen to him when his dad – who is in his eighties – dies. Tommy has anger management issues, and is often involved in physical fights. To tell you the truth, I think it’s a miracle that he has not been killed, either by the police or some thug that frequents his “business.” He is the proverbial ticking time bomb.

        The reference to living close to the runway refers to my job in Greenland. I was working and living at the airport hotel, and pretty much learned to ignore the high pitched whine of the jet engines and the twack-twack-twack of the helicopters. But have a cat in the next room make retching sounds, and I’m instantly wide awake!

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    1. Is this from Thursday morning’s storm? I read about it. Bet there were some nervous and tense moments as that was happening. The ship’s wind gauge measured the wind gusts at 90 knots or 103 mph.

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  5. I remember entering that harbor in heavy weather in a tiny boat. The waves were sloshing so powerfully that it seemed equally likely that we would smash against the left or right side of the pier. We were like a tiny chip of wood with no ability to choose our own path.

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    1. I have friends who tell of being caught between a freighter and the concrete walls as they were navigating the canal in a small sailboat. Scares me just hearing the story.

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      1. Oh my god, how did that happen? As I was watching the video posted by Clyde I was contemplating the damage such a large ship could cause if it hit the lighthouse or careened into one of the sides of the canal. It must have been a nightmare for the guy atop the lift bridge to sit there, helpless and watch – in slow motion – whatever was unfolding.

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  6. We can sometimes hear the horses and cattle from the rodeo grounds a few blocks from our house as well as football crowds from the nearby college stadium. They let high school teamsteams play there, too.

    One distinctive summer sound I remember from childhood at my grandparent’s the metallic clank of the lids to the hog feeders slam down after the pigs were done holding tbe lids up with their snouts.

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    1. We lived at least a mile, as the crow flies, from the high school, but I still remember on those crisp fall Friday nights hearing the high school marching band at halftime. Especially the horns and the drums.

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  7. Sounds that surround me during summers on my screen porch include roosters that crow 24/7, hens gossiping, a tree frog or two, trucks & cars on the road north of the house, bird songs including robins, song and white throat sparrows, catbirds, woodpeckers (including yellow-bellied “mews,” pileated, hairy & downy calls and thumps), yellow warblers, a pheasant cock or two, the English Mastiff “Madame Hildegarde” issuing warnings of things only she can hear or smell. In the spring, the evening frog songs. In the summer the sound of the neighbor’s tractor haying the field across the road. Minnesota Power substation white noise and occasionally a helicopter checking the lines. Also occasional sirens heard from Old Highway 61 just south of my house. Oh, and the coyote families talking to each other. Once in awhile, a horse snorting (or recently sounding an alarm at the scent of a bear later seen leaving my land by a neighbor). I hear many more sounds now that I don’t have the radio on all the time…

    (One of my fondest sounds from childhood summers at my southwest MN grandparents’ farms was the Mourning Dove in the morning.)

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Yep, that’s pretty much what I hear too.

      Plus guinea hens cackling and occasionally the ducks making a loop around the house (usually at 3AM) “quack quack quack quack quack quack…” Once the outside temp hits about 40 in March and 60 in May, the windows are always open in our house.

      BIR: I am headed to Winona today to see a former student in the GRSF Intern show.

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  8. Saturday mornings on the Macalester College campus when they hosted the Scottish Country Fair: no matter where you were, how late you had been up the night before, or what you had done or consumed into the wee hours…the bag pipers would start practicing and tuning. Often, it seemed, right under your dorm window (not entirely true, but they spread far and wide and that sound carries like nobody’s business). I like the sound of the pipes, but was less appreciative at 8am on a Saturday morning…

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    1. My cousin Wes was a librarian at Macalester in the 1970’s and early 80’s, probably before your time. He moved to Ohio State after that. Every time I see a post from Wesew I think of Wes. They are both in Columbus.

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      1. I graduated in 1988. The same year that they opened the “new” library (so I only remember the old library…I think the new one didn’t officially open until alumni weekend – after graduation).

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    2. One of my daughters was a competitive Scottish highland dancer. I’ve been to countless Scottish fairs at Macalester and also Alma, Michigan, Kansas City, Houston and San Diego. The bagpipes are highly evocative for me.

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  9. The sound I am waiting for today is the sound of Husband pulling into the driveway returning from a trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation. He and some Native friends were there to perform music at the Baptist mission we often go to. I had to work and stayed home. Husband said there were Ukrainian and Russian Pentacostal folks from Chicago and Kentucky there to do good works and minister to the c ommunity. Husband said they were very nice and didn’t handle snakes or anything like that.

    This puts in mind the Doukhabors, a Russian pacifist and anarchist Christian sect, many of whom live in Canada now, and who are noted for protesting government policy and interference in their lives by stripping naked in court and in public, even elderly women doing so. Wouldn’t it be great if that is how people protested here instead of using hateful language and shooting others?

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  10. When I was a student at Michigan State University I often heard music played on the clarion in the middle of the campus. The clarion was played by trained musician. I was treat to hear him preform tunes by ringing the clarion bells.

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    1. U of Chi had a clarion concert from 5 to 5:30 Mon – Thurs. One of the players when I was there was from Duluth. Where do you practice?

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  11. My sound memories are of a contrast.

    At 16, my cousin and I went on a student ship from NYC to France. Our cabin was in the deepest, darkest bowels of the ship. No light and a roaring engine (that never stopped, of course).

    After a train to and a night in Paris, we were whisked to southern France to a small town called Chambon-sur-Lignon. I grew up in an outside suburb in Connecticut but this was REALLY the country.
    I’m sure there must have been nature sounds but what was striking was how QUIET it was compared to our steel-foundry of a cabin on the boat. It was striking to me that there would NEVER be a car just going by (we were at the top of a hill).

    I’m actually pretty removed from nature sounds now. I live in a MAC-insulated house and though I don’t keep windows closed because of airplane noise, I keep them closed because I don’t think of opening them (I just forget – how sad is that?).

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  12. Husband heard about 6 burrowing owls gabbling away in a prairie dog town near a sun dance site on the Pine Ridge reservation yesterday. They don’t hoot like regular owls.

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    1. They chuckle more than they hoot. The owls in the sun dance grounds terrified our friend’s 80 pound dog a couple of weeks ago when he ventured too close to their burrows. They swooped him and he high tailed it back to the camper and hid.

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  13. I’m sorta surprised that we haven’t had a report from Cb. She has told us about her lonely loon right outside her cottage. I can’t think of many sounds that are more Minnesotan and evocative of what that means than a loon call.

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    1. We could still hear from her, PJ. She doesn’t check TB as often as you and I do. The loon himself (herself?) is an occasional visitor who drops by briefly once a year. Minnetonka, with all of its motorboat traffic, is not very loon-friendly.

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  14. Our cabin on the shores of Lake Superior was more notable for what we didn’t hear there than for what we did. The cabin sat several miles from the nearest highway, separated from it by a forest. With few exceptions, we heard no man-made noise while there: no trucks, motorboats or city noises. In the daytime we mostly heard wind and the waves that slapped against the quarry rocks. Gulls passed by close enough that we heard their cries. Now and then a fishing boat would motor around in Bark Bay pulling nets, but they rarely made enough noise to be heard on land.

    It was different at night, for the darkness was accompanied by a lack of wind. The most common noise at night was that strangled cry made by foxes. We occasionally heard loons hooting on Bark Bay, but only rarely. My theory was that the lake was too vast for a loon to claim. A few loons dove for minnows on the bay but rarely were vain enough to make territorial whoops.

    The most iconic sound was one we heard just rarely. When a heavy fog enveloped the lake and the cabins on the shore, the Cornucopia foghorn would blat to help guide mariners safely to port. Have you folks heard that kind of noise? Clyde surely has. It is one of the most plaintive, lonely sounds in the world.

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    1. While Hans and I were visiting your cabin, Steve, I recall Hans becoming aware of a sound coming from the rocky outcroppings by the lake. He went to explore and discovered several otters splashing in a pool of water sheltered by some big rocks right in front of your cabin.. He made a video and sound recording of it that he has it stashed away somewhere.

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  15. Even though I live right in the city, I live near the Mississippi, which is of course an essential flyway. In the late fall and especially in the spring I can sometimes hear great wedges of tundra swans passing overhead on their way north or south. They fly so impossibly high it often takes some time to locate them overhead. Their cry is higher, sharper, more plaintive than that of geese.

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  16. I live not far from Holman Field, which doesn’t have nearly the heavy traffic of the big airport, but it does produce some noisy aircraft from time to time. The planes take off in a different direction, but sometimes come in to land right over my house, usually during the day, but sometimes after dark. If I’m lying in bed and I hear one coming from the west, I can look out the window and see the lights just before the plane swoops over the house.

    My house was built in the 1880’s, so that bedroom was probably in use for three or four decades before a plane ever flew overhead. The air traffic was likely heavier for awhile before MSP International was built. The occupants were probably relieved when that happened.

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  17. Years ago I heard two NPR stories about ambient noise.

    Georgia writer Bailey White used to do frequent commentaries on NPR. One of her stories describe how every home has ambient noise. Refrigerators hum in a certain way. The ducts carrying furnace hot air might boom as they expand. Perhaps the rain gutters of a home whistle in a wind. Each home has a unique palette of ambient noises. People become habituated to those noises and usually aren’t aware of hearing them. A motion picture team came to Bailey White’s home to record the ambient noises of the house so that could be played as part of a soundtrack for movies. Audiences wouldn’t hear the noises consciously, but their presence would add credibility to the sound of a film.

    The other story dealt with the way different noises in a home or office sometimes clash or blend appealingly. Imagine you are in an office that has a computer and a printer. Both might make some noise while running, with each machine sending out noise at a certain pitch. The printer pitch and the computer pitch could sound pleasant when combined, or the two pitches might fight each other. Some people who design offices are studying this issue because they hope it is possible to create offices that feel better for workers because every subtle noise is harmonious with the other noises.

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      1. I think I know those apartments…there are several old buildings along Bryant between 38th and 41st streets. A family friend lived in one across from Lyndale Farmstead Park. As a kid I figured they would be the height of urban living to live in a funky old place like that…radiator clanking or no. (Or radiators occasionally clang – every now and again the clang moves from one radiator to the next like they are calling each other. I know it’s likely just extra air in the system, but it’s still fun to hear it move.)

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    1. We have, on my current floor at work, a noise we call “the whale.” It sounds much like the long call of a whale, changing pitch slightly and sounding hollow and plaintive. It’s likely something in the ventilation, but it amuses my team to talk about the whale and what it might be up to or sad about today. Poor whale.

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  18. i think of the frogs and crickets we had at a house then not then yes then no then yes again. we don’t have them now but the bull frogs on the walks are wonderful at dusk. a couple of weeks ago the promised fountain in the pond out back got installed and turned on at 9 off at 10 with a timer. the white sound is like rain on the roof out in the back yard
    w ehave good morning birds at 430 or so at this time of the year. full choir at 6. i miss the sounds of my children. they are all older and away now. or when they are home they go off to their corner and do young adult stuff. its fun to get together for family gatherings with chardaes and stories being part of the program. laughs and more laughs. my son moved to reno in june and as much as he drove me crazy with the longest intro to every damn thought he had his absence leaves the house quiet. daughter left for college and never came back. one son in the basement trying to find a way out into the world, a daughter going to be a senior who is wanting to get ot of dodge and find her own calling and the baby who plays uke in her room ( she is good too) three musical kids…not bad
    but the sound of turner classic movies and pandora mix list (lyle lovett, yo yo ma,bob dylna the beatles pink martini chet baker mel torme ella bing frank madeline barbara django bix and on and on. john prine steve goodman joni, emmy lou satchmo miles woody burl
    i dont need new stimulus i remember the nyc piano player michael feinstein who said why would write your own when you an play cole porter george gershwin , irving berlin
    bobby short played cole porter, duke ellington, the gershwins, billy strayhorn and harold arlen, who needs new when you have all this.
    the same holds true of birds wind train whistles childrens laughter and dogs barking hello, youve got mail is not missed but i still look around when old ring tones go off in some other pocket.
    sounds like smells are triggers.
    smelled my old girlfriend in a walkby at the store the other day, my brown eyed girl mentioned in lindas catalog yesterday takes me back to bill mccarthys driveway in 1968 with bill and sean and bill henderson, todays sounds will do that for me 20 years from now. looking forward to it

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        1. Smell is incredibly evocative; it can instantly transport you back to a certain time or place. I recall many years ago attending a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet at Northrup Auditorium. The minute I entered the theater, I caught a whiff of the heavy perfume that I was so familiar with from the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. It’s a smell unique to Russia, one I have never smelled elsewhere, and one that I don’t particularly care for, but one that my brain obviously had categorized. In a fraction of a second, I was there again.

          Reminds me of the “odorific” from Harold and Maude:

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    1. used to say the only thing worse than having to go to that terrible job trade show whatever was not being able to go. guys who bitched about the awful trade shows sre wanted to be back there when they didnt get invited anymore.

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  19. One night when I was about 10, I remember lying in bed, almost asleep, and feeling terrified that there was a tornado headed right for our house. The sound was the washing machine on the spin cycle and I incorporated the sound into my almost asleep brain and turned it into a storm.

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  20. Were any Minnesota Baboons awakened this morning by a scream? It was me. My work has been destroyed. I took a picture but am totally ignorant as to show you folks what I have done. Any help would be appreciated. So far I have the photo on gmail but that’s about it.

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    1. You can post a photo that lives somewhere on the internet. An attachment on gmail doesn’t do it. If you can upload the photo to a site like flickr or photobucket, you just copy the link and paste it into your comment. Please share!

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    1. This is my work in sheet vinyl with multiple colors. The river pattern runs down all the hallways in various widths to those “eye” shapes at each corridor intersection. This is one of the short corridors. It’s all been ruined by the trades who came in and did work over top without providing any protection. There are scratches and gouges all over it from dragging equipment across the floor. Horrible.

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        1. Well, since I can’t tell what the damage is in the photos I have to say, it’s lovely!! Sorry – is it fixable at all?

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        2. theres a theme of life since the beginning of time.
          raw material form france? i think you need to go over personally and make sure the blues match for material to fix the mistake.
          cabinet makers insurance is there for a reason

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  21. Not fixable. The raw product is made in France. The Children’s Hospital people are going ballistic. Two cabinet people have just now been fired. It’s very, very noisy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh dear. I hope there is someway to remedy the floors in the long run (even if it means reordering from France…which does not sound inexpensive).

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